The Crisis Obama Let Go to Waste
Barack Obama's legacy is nothing if not consequential. In his decades as "community organizer" among Chicago's poorest, most desperate neighborhoods, he did nothing other than perpetuate complete dependence on Big Brother. His Affordable Care Act, and its accompanying criminal penalties for not engaging in commerce, scythed a mile-wide berth into the already frayed concept of a citizenry living free from government coercion. More ominously, Obama was able to entwine his instinctive Marxism with a vision for America's path forward in a way his predecessors had been unable to.
The singular cunning of Obama was his success in realigning the "victim" hierarchy almost completely from class to race. Free citizens in a market society can climb or descend the social ladder, but race remains a constant throughout. Race is our most recognizable difference, no matter its superficial nature. In the deepest recesses of our prejudices, race is pure tribalism. And in the darkest hours of human history, at our most trying moments, and during our most vicious wars, people of all tribes have taken refuge not within their class, but within their race or ethnicity. The examples of Nazi Germany, of Bosnia, of Rwanda, and of the Armenians in Turkey are but a few examples of the horrors lifelong friends and neighbors of the same class can inflict on one another in the name of racial identity politics.
This isn't to say Marxism hasn't been peddled before under the guise of racial identity grievance. Indeed, Lenin himself was able to provoke satellite regions like Ukraine and Kazakhstan to revolt from czarist Russia in the name of ethnic separatism. In the United States, it has been tried repeatedly since the 1960s. But as our nation's first (half) black president, Obama was able sow division with absolute authority, and with minimal criticism by a political class that either openly supported his aims or was petrified of soliciting unsubstantiated accusations of racism.
And sow division he did, with every chance he got.
When Obama found religion (or feigned the motions of doing so for future electability), he chose out of the near 1,000 available options to him in Chicago a church whose pastor was an outspoken anti-American, anti-white, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist. For the next 20 years, Obama and Michelle chose to sit in the pews of that swine and devour the filth he shoveled out from the trough at his altar. When asked to justify his close association with this shameless bigot, Obama shrugged off such concerns, comparing Wright to "an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don't agree with." Obama distanced himself from Wright only when it started affecting his poll numbers.
When armed Black Panthers were caught threatening voters outside a Philadelphia polling station in 2008, the Department of Justice under the Bush administration charged (and convicted) them with violations of the Voting Rights Act. Once in office, Obama had political appointees in the DOJ dismiss the charges.
When Cambridge Police (both white and black, not that it should matter) arrested his black friend Henry Gates for disorderly conduct, Obama, after admitting that he didn't know all the facts, stated that the police "acted stupidly."
After Trayvon Martin was shot by Afro-Peruvian (AKA "white Hispanic") George Zimmerman, Obama intoned, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." This implies that Martin was shot because he was black, and not because he was repeatedly pummeling Zimmerman's head into the pavement. Even Eric Holder's investigation concluded otherwise.
After black nationalist Xavier Micah Johnson opened fire and murdered five Dallas police officers in 2016 (as they protected a Black Lives Matter march), Obama gave a eulogy at their funeral. The eulogy itself stands as perhaps one of the most despicable moments of the Obama presidency. He used the podium to equate the murder of the Dallas police officers with the recent shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (both of which were investigated and found justifiable, and neither man was "unfairly targeted" because he was black, as Obama asserted).
It was a speech as deft as it was cynical. Reading through the text, one realizes more clearly the manipulation taking place that, when spoken, is less detectable. He subtly but unmistakably steers the speech from a tribute to the murdered officers to a damning indictment of our alleged systemic racism, coupled with a defense of the paranoid style of the Black Lives Matter movement. By the end of the speech, Obama had skillfully twisted the events to the point where theoretical, faceless white racism was to blame for the actual, documented racism of Xavier Johnson.
One wonders if, had he attended Sterling's funeral, he would have lectured the audience about murdered police.
At this point, I must interject a side note regarding the aforementioned shootings. Philando Castile was shot in a horrible case of mistaken identity. He closely matched the description of a suspect from a recent armed robbery, and the officer thought he was reaching for a gun he admitted to having. Alton Sterling (who had a long arrest record that included battery, burglary, and weapons charges) was shot because he was physically fighting with police, despite being tasered several times. Police shot him when he reached for the loaded .38 caliber revolver in his pants. His shooting was completely warranted, and Baton Rouge is a safer place without him. Neither the tragic shooting of Castile nor the justified shooting of Sterling can in any reasonable way be attributed to racism, nor can they be remotely likened to the premeditated slaughter of the five Dallas officers. But such are the dots that Obama connected to hustle his race narrative.
Obama is notoriously thin-skinned to criticism, or to the suggestion that someone, somewhere, might be smarter than he. This is the guy who claimed, with a straight face, that he was a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, more knowledgeable about policy than his policy directors, and a better political director than his political director. Still, one assumes he was adroit enough to recognize that objections to his policies, or questions of their constitutionality, were not the default reactions of repressed racism. If he had thought they were, he would have said so. On a fundamental level, Obama understands that America is not the systemically racist cesspool he allowed it to be portrayed as under his watch. Yet he was Machiavellian enough to let this yarn spin itself for the purpose of political advantage.
Obama also understood the political pitfalls inherent in hiding behind the race card in efforts to deflect policy debates he could not win. So he did one better. He let his media sycophants do it for him. For the duration of his presidency and beyond, these shrieking curs claw the flesh off their faces at the slightest hint of criticism of Obama, his policies, or his style of governance. I am unaware of a single instance in which he publicly censured his groupies for their utter lack of nuance.
Therein lies the biggest tragedy of Obama's legacy. As a biracial president, he had a foot in both black and white America. He was uniquely positioned to use this to the advantage of the entire country, to serve as a bridge of healing and progress between races who have butted heads for far too long. Instead, for eight continuous years, he chose to do the exact opposite. He entrenched identity politics as deeply as he could, ripping open wounds in the process, and divided this great nation perhaps past the point of no return. He did this to spread a thoroughly debunked ideology, the achievability of which his ego will never allow him to admit he was mistaken about.
In a 2008 speech in which Obama attempted to justify Jeremiah Wright's irrational hatred, he said, "At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings." Never before has a poker player so inadvertently revealed his own hand. When Obama spoke those words, he was no doubt doing what he does best: thinking of himself.
Image: Ari Levinson via Wikimedia Commons.